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How To Deal with a Jerk, a Disrupter or a Depressive at Work!


It may be hard to believe that merely listening compassionately can actually produce positive results quickly, in an easy and relaxed manner, with individuals whose behaviors are upsetting to us, at home or at work.

Can one bad apple spoil the whole bunch?

When William Felps was a doctoral student at the UW Business School, he designed an experiment to see what happens when a "bad apple" worker joins a team. He divided people into small groups and gave them a task. One member of the group would be an actor, acting like a bad apple: either like a jerk, a disrupter or a depressive. Within forty-five minutes, the rest of the group started behaving like the bad apple.

What was particularly surprising was that, while the results were consistent from one group study to the next, there was one time when a team member was a particularly good leader and he would ask questions, engage all the team members and defuse conflicts by really listening to what they had to say. In this one study group, the bad apple had no sustaining impact on the rest.

Later it was discovered that this young man's father was a diplomat, and what he did with the bad apple and the others who had been negatively influenced, was engage them and connect with them - like a diplomat. He had an amazing diplomatic ability to defuse conflict that would normally emerge as the actor would display this real bad apple type behavior, by asking questions and then listen attentively to their answers.

The research is in: a leader can in fact change the dynamics and performance of a group by simply listening compassionately with the intention of engaging fear based perceptions in order to defuse the disruption. By going around the group and asking questions, soliciting everyone's opinions - no matter how negative they appear to be - making sure everybody is heard, one person can literally transform the energy and dynamics of a group that's being adversely affected.

The Power of One

All it takes to overcome unskilled behavior is for one person to step up who is willing to listen attentively and without judgment. Listening with "healing ears" is more powerful than meanness, rudeness, negativism, avoidance, minimizing or just plain checking-out mentally and emotionally.

By really listening to each other, by asking questions to gather necessary information about "what" is going on for them, you will see an immediate climate change in the environment. Ask enough questions to discover what their underlying thinking is that is causing the disconnect: fear and subsequent negativity. This one action alone creates a new culture from which to live, work and play.

The Power of One

I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something
I can do.
-Edward Everett Hale

Excerpt from The Power of Compassion: 7 Ways You Can Make A Difference
By Mary Robinson Reynolds
Take 30 minutes, read my book in its entirety and see what a difference a book makes! Click here to read.

Mary ReynoldsMary Robinson Reynolds, M.S., Educational Psychologist, Author and Producer of the world renowned Internet videos, and - both amassing over 10 million views within a few short months of their releases - spent many years as a classroom teacher K-8 and then as a counselor K-12. She parlayed her phenomenal success with youth at-risk into her programs for business leaders, entrepreneurs and managers on how to be energetically effective in leading improvement in their organizations through the power of Team Synergy and MasterMinding. She has written eight books, developed UTrain&Coach programs that anyone can take into their place of work to build organization wide Team Synergy, and has presented to over 20,000 people in two year period in every major city in the U.S. To learn more go to:

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